The ins and outs of hookup culture in college

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Today’s society is more open to casual sex and it’s almost encouraged and talked about than decades past.  Illustration by Kaitlyn Tran.

Today’s society is more open to casual sex and it’s almost encouraged and talked about than decades past. Illustration by Kaitlyn Tran.

Everytime I try to explain to my 56-year-old mother the concept of hookup culture in college, we debate for an hour who knows best. I tell her how times have changed since she was young. Today, we live in a society where casual sex is acceptable and almost encouraged. By the time many individuals reach college, they no longer view sex as a sacred experience that should be reserved for one person. The truth is, every night many students go home with strangers they meet at the bar, have a one-night stand and leave the next morning with zero regrets.  

Sex is constantly in the media. Whether it be a television show you come across while flipping through channels, a movie or even a podcast, the psychological and physical aspects of sex are constantly being talked about. We are exposed to ideas of sex and intimacy from a young age. Take the example of losing your virginity. Society has built up the first time you have sex to be this telling moment. For some people, though, it’s just considered sex. This concept explains why hookup culture is so accepted. After all, it’s all just sex.  

This isn’t to say hookup culture does not present complications down the road. It takes a specific type of person to be able to successfully engage in hookup culture and stay sane. Are you sad the boy you hooked up with last week didn’t text you this Saturday? Is he allowed to hookup with other girls? Does engaging in hookup culture give someone a bad reputation? These are all questions to consider before engaging in casual sex with different individuals.  

Dating apps like Tinder have opened up an entirely new way of connecting people who simply want to hook up. Although some individuals find long-term partners on Tinder, a survey from PsychologyToday states: “51% said they [respondents] believed Tinder was designed for hooking up.” Instead of asking someone face-to-face for sex, individuals can now simply log onto Tinder and find a sexual partner within minutes.  

In a college setting, oftentimes alcohol is a catalyzing vessel for hookups. People are aware of the fact that engaging in hookup culture is much easier when you have liquid confidence in your system. A 2010 study conducted by Fielder and Carey states that “64% of participants reported the presence of alcohol in their hookup encounters.” This explains why people often end up engaging in hookup culture after going to a bar, party or date function. It’s the same reason why many people get drinks as a first date.  

Whether these sexual encounters are positive or negative is up to the individual. Some may believe that engaging in casual sex is detrimental to someone’s reputation, or that it’s unsanitary. Others view it as a way of owning your sexuality and not letting societal structures shape your life.  

Fourth-semester ACES student Jordan Madison believes it’s someone’s own business whether they want to engage in hookup culture.  

“I don’t see the big deal about it, unless it’s destroying someone’s mental health,” Madison said. “If you can’t handle the ups and downs of hooking up with someone, then don’t do it. But if you’re fine having casual sex, then that’s your choice and no one should tell you different.”  

Hookup culture in college is not a new thing. It’s been around for decades; the only difference is that now it’s talked about. So, I encourage you to keep the conversation going and to not shy away from “taboo topics.” The more it’s talked about, the less of a taboo it becomes.  


Jordana Castelli is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at jordana.castelli@uconn.edu.

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